Japan took on Croatia in the round of 16 at the Al Janoub stadium on Monday. After an intense fight, the game was poised at 1-1 at the end of real time. The winner of the contest plays either Brazil or South Korea in the quarter-finals.

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Team Japan’s performance has been amongst the most tremendous at the FIFA World Cup 2022, having beaten former champions Germany and Spain enroute to the knockouts. The east Asian country who co-hosted the World Cup in Korea in 2002 are famously called ‘Samurai Blue’ in football circles. 

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Here is why 

Japan’s national flag has no shade of blue, having  white and a circular red in the middle. Many experts argue that Japan’s success in the 1930 far east championships, where Japan won the football event in blue is the main reason behind the long standing tradition of the blue Jersey.

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Others feel that Japan’s squad for the 1954 World Cup qualifiers consisted of mainly players from Tokyo Imperial University team. As the team wore blue jerseys in their home matches, the jersey is said to have stuck on since then.

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The Japan football association flouted the nickname Samurai Blue for the side in the FIFA World Cup 2006 at Germany.  The catchphrase is a reference to the traditional warriors of Japan, who are called Samurais. Since then the Asian side have been known as such amongst fans and followers.

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The Japanese side first entered the main stage of the World Cup in 1998 and since then has had the distinction of playing in all the six World Cups that ensued. With a few exceptions, Japan has been seen in blue jersey in most football competitions.

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While Japan qualified to the round of 16 on four occasions (2002, 2010, 2018 and 2022), they are yet to break the jinx and play a World Cup quarterfinal.